South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health and learning disability services in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, is encouraging local people to take part in a national review of mental health advocate services.
The review is to be carried out by the University of Central Lancashire, which has been commissioned by the Department of health to look at the quality of Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) Services.
Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) services, which are free and confidential, are relatively new and were introduced in the 2007 Mental Health Act. The changes to the Mental Health Act meant that there was a legal duty to provide IMHA advocates for eligible people from April 2009. The IMHA is not meant to replace existing advocacy, legal advice or support, but to work alongside them.
An IMHA can work alongside a person to help them to get and understand information about mental health legislation, any conditions and restrictions on them, and their rights. They can also help get information about and understand medical treatment (e.g. medication, therapies.) and, at the same time, support individuals to take part in care planning.
Nine focus groups are being organised to involve mental health service users, carers and family members, Independent Mental Health Advocates, staff from mental health services and commissioners in developing quality measures for these IMHA services.
Each focus group will involve 8 -10 people and will explore what makes a good IMHA service in order to develop quality indicators and inform the next stage of the research. These focus groups will take place during December 2010 and January 2011.
Dawn Stephenson, director of corporate development, said, "Advocacy promotes equality, social justice and social inclusion. It can empower people to speak up for themselves and help people become more aware of their own rights, to exercise those rights and be involved in and influence decisions that are being made about their future. We would like to encourage local people who use our services to get involved in this review to help influence the development and future of IMHA services."
If you would like to take part in one of these focus groups, you can find out what is involved by contacting email@example.com for an information sheet and to reserve a place in one of the focus groups. Or to find out more about the review visit www.nmhdu.org.uk
The Trust’s inclusion team would also be very happy to help and can be contacted on 01924 328656, they are also able to give advice on local advocacy services.